The tree of the 10,000 images, the sacred Tree of Tibet, it grows in an enclosure on lands of the Lamasery of the same name.
Tradition has it that it grew out of the hair of Tson-ka-pa, who was buried on that spot. This "Lama" was the great Reformer of the Buddhism of Tibet, and is regarded as an incarnation of Amita Buddha. In the words of the Abbe Huc, who lived several months with another missionary named Gabet near this phenomenal tree: "Each of its leaves, in opening, bears either a letter or a religious sentence, written in sacred characters, and these letters are, of their kind, of such a perfection that the type-foundries of Didot contain nothing to excel them. Open the leaves, which vegetation is about to unroll, and you will there discover, on the point of appearing, the letters or the distinct words which are the marvel of this unique tree! Turn your attention from the leaves of the plant to the bark of its branches, and new characters will meet your eyes! Do not allow your interest to flag; raise the layers of this bark, and Still OTHER CHARACTERS will show themselves below those whose beauty had surprised you. For, do not fancy that these superposed layers repeat the same printing. No, quite the contrary; for each lamina you lift presents to view its distinct type. How, then, can we suspect jugglery? I have done my best in that direction to discover the slightest trace of human trick, and my baffled mind could not retain the slightest suspicion." Yet promptly the kind French Abbe suspects -- the Devil.
The Kounboum Lamasery is located in Si Fan where 4000 lamas continually venerated the precepts of Buddhism. The monastery sits on the bluff of precipitous cliff to which thousands of devout pilgrims from the remotest parts of Tibet journey once a year, in celebration of the Feast of Flowers. On this occasion the lamasery is decorated with statues of people, animals, landscapes and flowers all made of butter. The monk-artisan’s of the Kounboum labor for three months to sculpt these butter works, keeping their hand cold by plunging them in icy water, so that the heat of their fingers does not disfigure their work. The flowers and designs are done in bas-relief and represent every phase of Buddhistic history. The Feast of Flowers is brilliantly lit, but it is shown only for a single night. At dawn the entire exhibit is thrown in the ravine where hungry crows await their feast.